Editors Diary August 1st 2012 
You may find this difficult to believe but before 2008 I had never been to the NitrOlympX; money, time off work, all the usual reasons..
Every year Christine Calwer, who handles media relations for the NitrOlympX, would ask me if I was going and every year I would have to reply "Not this year, maybe next year?" and even at this distance I could discern her bottom lip trembling. In 2008 Christine asked the usual question and… well, it was a few years ago so my memory could be a bit faulty on this but if I remember rightly it was something like “I am on the top of a very tall building with some petrol and a box of matches and if you don’t come this year then I will set myself on fire and jump off”. It was either that or "Please, we would really like you to come to cover our event".

You all know that I hate to do things at the last minute but this one came together very quickly. It was only a few weeks before the event when I realised that I had the time off work to spare and that the bank account was reasonably healthy. Maybe it could be done! Christine and Yvonne made the arrangements at their end including transport to the track, hotel, accreditation, a place for me in the commentary booth, all that kind of stuff. Another concern was internet access at the track (2008 was still quite early days for guaranteed access) but Top Fuel Dragster racer and longtime supporter Andy Carter offered to loan me his 3G stick and waved aside all talk of payment for the roaming fees.

Meanwhile I was talking to Kirstie to see if she would like to come along as our event coverage would need photographs. At that point Kirstie had not covered many events with the team but she had impressed us with her photography and with what seemed like boundless supplies of energy and enthusiasm. As a lot of you know Kirstie works in a school and so time off work in August was not going to be a problem. I did not want to pile too much pressure on Kirstie as our only photographer for such a big event, and in any case you really need two photographers at a major race, so we also arranged for Markus Münch to provide us with pictures.

If there was any justice in this world then Markus and his sidekick Mattias Schneider would be world famous. These are two of the most talented guys you could hope to meet with skills including photography, journalism, graphic design and web site design, and they are great guys with it. Markus gladly agreed to help us out with photographs and at Christine's request he also drove us from Frankfurt Airport to Hockenheim. As we entered the arrivals hall at Frankfurt I was a little worried about recognising Markus as at that point I had only met him a couple of times and then only briefly, and I do not have a very good memory for faces. Having scanned those waiting at the barrier I made for the tall guy in a hot rodding T-Shirt and luckily it was Markus. I don’t know what I would have said or done had it not actually been Markus; I guess that what IBM used to call “unpredictable results” would have ensued.

We reached Hockenheim early on a balmy evening and took a look around. I also stepped up to the commentary booth to check out my desk and all looked good. I would be sitting in between legendary track announcer Benni Voss and Christina Kehl, who was then the equally legendary "Achtung fahrerlager” lady - even though I had never before been to Hockenheim I knew about the announcements.

Benni Voss - popular announcer at the NitrOlympX

Benni is no stranger to anyone who knows anything about European drag racing. My first experience of Benni's commentary was at Santa Pod Raceway some years ago when he was invited to commentate on a European Super Street Bike Series which was being contested at the time. I think that "Coherent raving" is the best way to describe what emerged from the PA that day; boy was it entertaining, and boy was Benni enjoying himself. I think he took his fellow announcers by surprise. Not for nothing was (and is) he known as the fastest commentator this side of the Urals. Benni's commentary has slowed down some since those days and his voice has taken on an authoritative air but that voice is still one of the most easily-identified in drag racing. My German is terrible but as I have said before you don't need to understand the language to be able to tell how good a commentator is and Benni is very good. Benni, a big fan and contributor of interesting news items from Germany, had arranged for my desk and spare timing console and he made me very welcome, cadging me lunch and maintaining a frequent supply of Liptons Ice Tea which tastes particularly good when taken in the greenhouse which is the commentary booth.

Kirstie and Tog at the commentator booth where has base during the 27th NitrOlympx

Christina Achtung-Fahrerlager also made me very welcome. I had some bizarre conversations with her. She tried very hard to explain the local curfews, starting by telling me that we had to finish at 18:00 on Friday because there was a bird sanctuary just up the road and the noise upset the parrots. I couldn't quite get why the noise didn't upset them at 17:59 and said so. What really did it for me, though, was when Christina explained that the relatively late start on the Sunday was because there was a cemetery behind the grandstand. "But they're dead, it's not going to wake them up", I said. "No, there is a church service in the cemetery on Sunday morning" Christina said, her voice inflection clearly saying "You bloody idiot". Occasionally Christina would get visits from a representative of the Promoter who, although I didn't understand the words, was quite obviously telling her in no uncertain terms how she should be doing her job. To my ears and eyes Christina was doing her job perfectly and I told her so whilst she sat discreetly blubbing.

When the racing started it was in at the deep end both for Kirstie and for Your Reporter. Whenever you read the phrase "We're on manual qualifying" in our race reports you can assume that (a) the results are being done off the timing system console and that (b) Tog is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The way that manual reporting usually works is that we take the first session of qualifying off the official timing sheets and from session two onwards the updates come from keeping track of ETs on the timing console. This is relatively (I said relatively, folks) easy in heads-up and index classes but a bit more tricky with ET classes in which you have to calculate performance against dial-in and to do so in double-quick time before the next pair runs. The pairs are pushed through very quickly at Hockenheim and this means that the timing console clears in moments. On those occasions when I missed something and had to sprint downstairs to the timing booth Yas and his timing crew colleagues could not have been more helpful, so long as they understood what I was gabbling on about, and they remained cheerful and helpful all weekend and have been so at subsequent NitrOlympX.

I had to leave Kirstie pretty much to her own devices and this was the event at which her particular talent for off-track photography started to become apparent: it was the start of an aspect of our event coverage which remains very popular to this day. Kirstie took pictures in the pits and around the pairing lanes, she took pictures of crew, she took pictures from the grandstands, she borrowed a bike from Martin Groβe-Geldermann and when she managed to stay on it she went to the far end of the track to get parachute and racer and crew shots, she even visited the race officials at the weigh station. It was a stroke of genius on Kirstie’s part to take pictures which no-one else was taking as just about every other photographer in the place was trackside. If Kirstie were to quit tomorrow, which I really really hope she does not, then her place in history is assured for her innovative off-track and people photography. That Kirstie also manages to think of different angles and aspects of on-track photography is of course a bonus on the scale of those which British bankers routinely award themselves. Markus effortlessly fulfilled his brief, providing us with high-quality on-track shots at the end of each day and doing so with remarkable speed given the amount of pictures he must have taken.

We received a tremendous amount of positive feedback for our coverage of the 2008 event and I was very proud of the job we did especially given that we were short-handed. The organisers must also have been happy since were quickly invited back for the next year.

We have attended every NitrOlympX since then and at time of writing the team is a week and a day from travelling out to Germany for this year’s race. We have the full house of Kirstie (photography), Simon (pit notes), Roger (photography) and Your Reporter (race reports and mental arithmetic) and you can be sure that we will do everything we can to bring you the news as it happens.

If you see us at the track then please say Hello; if you’re not at the track then stay tuned to

Tog´s office at HockenheimRing

"Mr Tog" will this year again be keeping the world updated from the NitrOlympX -
stay tuned at!

Text: Andy Rogers (photo text by Åsa Kinnemar)
Photos: Courtesy of
This article is part of the Speedgroup Club Europe Newsletter #10/2012

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